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Homburg cup

In 1927, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the German Lawn Tennis Association, the “Official Annual of the German Tennis Association” contained several articles on the history of tennis in Germany. One of these articles was entitled “The Story of the Homburg Cup” [“Die Geschichte des Homburger Pokals”]. (An alternative title would be “The History of the Homburg Cup”, but the tournament was still being held when the original article was written.) Its author was Karl Grauhan, the official chronicler of the German Tennis Association. His piece provides an insight into one of the most important of the early German tennis tournaments. Although a women’s singles event was held at the Homburg tournament, the article focuses on the men’s singles event. This is also the focus of my translation, which corresponds to about eighty per cent of the original article. The Homburg Cup was first held in 1894, two years after the first German Championships tournament, which was held in Hamburg. However, the German Championships were moved to Homburg for four years, from 1898 to 1901, before returning to Hamburg in 1902. This fact and the similarity between the place names of Homburg and Hamburg can be confusing, but does not have to be. Homburg is sometimes referred to as Homburg von der Höhe. The Story of the Homburg Cup, by Karl Grauhan (translated by Mark Ryan) “In another section of this book it is stated that the ‘German Championships’ were held for the first time in 1892, in Hamburg. However, the sport of tennis was already being played with great enthusiasm much earlier on in other parts of Germany. For example, English people taking the cure in Homburg von der Höhe had played tennis there as early as 1877, and a tennis club had been founded in Baden-Baden in 1881. The founding figures of that time included, amongst others, Marcel, Count von Zeppelin, the Swiss Robert Tissot, the English curate in Baden-Baden, A.T.S. White, and both of the von Fichard brothers, the eldest of whom, James von Fichard, is a retired lieutenant colonel and still lives in Karlsruhe. Herr von Ficahrd remains a regular spectator at the tournaments in Baden-Baden and Pforzheim; in his role as chief umpire he also still actively takes part in our tournaments in Karlsruhe. In all probability he is one of the oldest tennis players still living in Germany. “Compared with today’s conditions, tennis in Baden-Baden was played in a very primitive manner in those days, on grass and using balls with no covers. The first tennis court was located roughly where the present-day Brenner’s Kurhof [now a hotel] is situated. The first international tennis tournament was held in Baden-Baden in 1884, on the same site where the present-day courts are located. Naturally the participants came mainly from England and the United States. The few German participants included the aforementioned Baron James von Fichard, who was able to win second prize in the men’s singles event. “However, the first major tournament took place in Homburg von der Höhe ten years later, in 1894. The first president of the German Tennis Association, Carl von der Meden, from Hamburg, brought the tournament into being together with the late spa director Ferdinand von Schoeler; the Homburg tournament took place after the German Championships tournament in Hamburg. At that point in time Homburg was an almost wholly English spa, known and loved in England mainly because the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, came to the lovely Taunus spa every year in August for the cure. Von der Meden and Schoeler rightly said to each other that, given this circumstance, it would not be too difficult to attract leading English tennis players to Homburg and to hold a major tournament there at the end of August, after the German Championships tournament in Hamburg. “These two gentlemen’s notions soon proved to be right, and in the 1890s one of the most splendid tournaments ever held on German soil took place in the lovely spa located at the foot of the Taunus Mountains. The degree of circumspection with which von der Meden went to work, and just how conscious he was of his goal, are shown by the fact that he was able to acquire W.H. Collins, then president of the English Lawn Tennis Association, as director of the first Homburg tournament. It was comparatively easy for a man like Collins, who at that time exercised a significant amount of influence at the All England Club, to persuade some of the top English players, with whom he was friendly, to undertake the trip to Homburg with him. “One of the main factors which contributed to the success of the Homburg tournament was the patronage the tournament enjoyed from the royal personages who gathered in Homburg every year in August. In addition to the Prince of Wales, regular visitors to the Homburg tournament included the Duke of Cambridge (a cousin of Queen Victoria), the Grand Duke of Hesse, Grand Duchess Anastasia von Mecklenburg, the Crown Prince of Greece and Grand Duke Mikhail Mikhailovich of Russia. Nearly all of these names recurred every year as prize donors at the Homburg tournament. This strong royal interest in the Homburg tournament certainly contributed significantly to the appeal of the tournament. When the leading German daily newspapers of the time regularly reported on the Homburg tournament the reason was not because of the newspaper’s or the reader’s interest in the sport of tennis, but because of the unique gathering of royal personages in Homburg. “In addition to a large number of English players, participants in the first Homburg tournament, held in 1894, included, amongst others, Count Viktor Voss-Schönau, from Mecklenburg, as well as Christian Winzer, from Hamburg, who, one year earlier, had been able to beat Count Voss in the semi-finals of the German Championships in Hamburg, and had then won the German Championships title in the Challenge Round. “To increase the appeal of the Homburg tournament the spa managers had donated the Homburg Cup, which was worth 1,200 marks, a considerable amount of money at that time. It was eventually won outright in 1898 by the elder of the two Doherty brothers, Reginald (Reggie). At the 1894 tournament the Englishman D.S.H. Hughes was able to become the first player to have his name engraved on the cup as winner. The significance of the second tournament, held in 1895, was much greater. Well-known names taking part worth noting were the German champion of that year, Count Viktor Voss, the Austrian champion P. von Hertz-Hertenried, the Dutchman C. van Rappard and the well-known Englishman Walter Howard, who for many years had been a visitor to the tournaments at the German spas. The winner of Homburg Cup in 1895 was the Australian William Cranston who beat his compatriot R.H. Forbes in the final by the score of 6-0, 6-3, 6-1. Earlier in the tournament Count Voss had been able to take a set from Cranston before losing 6-2, 1-6, 6-2. “The heyday of the Homburg Cup began in 1896 when Collins for the first time succeeded in bringing to Homburg not only the Doherty brothers, but also the redoubtable Irish champion Manliffe Goodbody and, above all, the Wimbledon champion of that year, Harold Mahony, another Irishman. However, Mahony did not enter the Homburg Cup event because at that time there was an unwritten law according to which the reigning Wimbledon champion took part only in handicap singles events or doubles events. This is also the reason why in later years, during the heyday of the Doherty brothers, they gave so many walkovers in the Homburg Cup. “In 1896, Count Voss was able to put up strong resistance against Reggie Doherty for the first time, when the latter was only able to shake the Mecklenburg Count off after losing a set, the final score being 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. In the All-Comers’ Final, Reggie Doherty had a comparatively easy victory over Manliffe Goodbody by the score of 6-0, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Since the previous year’s winner, William Cranston, was not defending his title, the name R.F. Doherty was immortalized on the cup for the first time. Reggie Doherty’s rise to the top more or less began with this victory because the following year – 1897 – he won the Wimbledon singles title for the first time, a title he defended successfully over the following three years. “The results of the handicap singles event in 1896 show us just how good the game of Count Voss had become by that time because Goodbody, who had the slight handicap of -4/6, was able to beat Voss only by the score of 0-6, 7-5, 9-7. Goodbody was also able to beat Laurence (Laurie) Doherty, who had the same handicap as him (-4/6) by the score of 8-6, 6-0. In 1896, the international spectators in Homburg were compensated for the lack of a Challenge Round match by an exceptional doubles match in which, after some brilliant play, Harold Mahony and Manliffe Goodbody were able to beat the Doherty brothers. “In 1897, not as many top players participated in the Homburg tournament as had done so in 1896. Instead George Hillyard, later secretary of the All England Club at Wimbledon for many years, visited Homburg and succeeded in beating Laurie Doherty, who at that time was somewhat weaker than his brother, Reggie, in the All-Comers’ Final by the score of 6-3, 7-5. Unfortunately, in 1897, as in 1896, there was no Challenge Round between George Hillyard and Reggie Doherty because of non-stop rain. “The participants in 1897 also included the teenage H.O. Behrens, from Hamburg, who was then only 17 years old. His desire to measure his skill against one of the Doherty brothers was fulfilled, although he played the weakest of the three brothers, the Reverend W.V. Doherty, to whom Behrens narrowly lost by the score of 8-6, 6-3 “The significance of the Homburg tournament in the sporting world was further increased in 1898 because in this year the German Championships were moved from Hamburg to Homburg von der Höhe. In addition to the Dohertys and Harold Mahony, in 1898 Dr Joshua Pim was among the top players. Dr Pim, an Irishman, was the Wimbledon champion of 1893 and 1894, and played under the pseudonym of ‘J. Wilson’. Count Voss and H.O. Behrens were among the German players taking part. In Laurie Doherty, Behrens naturally faced a far superior opponent, and lost 6-1, 6-1. Count Voss reached the semi-final stage where he lost to Dr Pim 3-6, 6-1, 4-1, retired. In 1898, in Homburg, the youngest Doherty, Laurie, was in brilliant form. After beating Mahony 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals, he defeated Joshua Pim 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the All-Comers’ Final. As was customary, Laurie Doherty did not play his brother Reggie in the Challenge Round, and the latter won the Homburg Cup for the third time and thus outright. “In 1899, the tournament directors had to donate a new Homburg Cup. It was even more valuable than the previous cup and cost a total of 1,500 marks. The year 1899 marked the high point of the Homburg tournament. In addition to the Doherty brothers and Harold Mahony, Arthur Wentworth Gore, the future Wimbledon champion (of 1901, 1908 and 1909), had sent his name in. However, the sensational aspect of the tournament of the tournament consisted in the participation of Clarence Hobart, in other words one of the best American players of the time. “The final at the Homburg Cup in 1899, between Reggie Doherty and Clarence Hobart, was thus the most exciting and, in sporting terms, the highest quality match that had ever been played in Homburg. In the semi-finals Reggie Doherty had beaten Harold Mahony 5-7, 9-7, 6-2, while Clarence Hobart had beaten Arthur Wentworth Gore 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. During the final, there was much excitement among the distinguished crowd of English spectators when Hobart, by means of a forceful, attacking game, took the first two sets 6-3, 6-4 from Doherty, who was considered unbeatable at that time. At this point Doherty really began to play. Playing exemplary tennis, he won the third set 6-0, the fourth 6-3 and the fifth and deciding set 6-4. “The final of the men’s doubles event in 1899 was no less exciting. After a tremendous struggle this was won by the Doherty brothers, who beat the American pair of Hobart and E. Black 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. “From 1900 onwards, the participation of German players in the Homburg Cup gradually increased. In addition to Count Voss, in 1900 we find Count Crote, Kurt von Lersner, the Berliner Rudolf Schindler and the former champion from Frankfurt, Carl Schmidt-Knatz. Schindler was beaten 6-3, 6-1, 10-8 by Count Voss, while Count Grote lost to Laurie Doherty by the strange score of 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0. In the semi-finals Laurie Doherty beat the well-known Englishman Clement Cazalet 7-5, 6-2, 7-5, while Count Voss lost a strikingly one-sided match to George Hillyard 6-2, 6-0, 6-2. [In the All-Comers’ Final Laurie Doherty beat George Hillyard 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, which meant that Laurie Doherty won the Homburg Cup for the first time because his brother, Reggie, the defending champion, decided not to play the Challenge Round match. Reggie had won the Homburg Cup for the previous four years.] “After 1900, the Dohertys never took part in the Homburg Cup again. This meant that the heyday of the tournament was over. The best English player to take part in 1901 was Frederick W. Payn, but he was only among the second rank of English players. However, the French players Max Décugis and Jacques Worth had sent in their names for the first time, as had the well-known Prague-based champion Kurt von Wessely, an Austrian. Of the German players taking part in 1901, Rudolf Schindler lost to Frederick W. Payn 6-3, 8-6, while Otto von Müller lost to Décugis by the score of 9-7, 6-3, and the Berliner A. von Gordon lost to Curt von Wessely 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Von Wessely lost in turn to the Dutchman Karl Beukema by the score of 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. “Max Décugis beat Frederick W. Payn 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, and since his compatriot Jacques Worth gave him a walkover in the All-Comers Final in 1901, the young Frenchman won the Homburg Cup for the first time at the age of 19. “In 1902, in other words in the year in which the German Tennis Association was founded, the German Championships returned to Hamburg after being held in connection with the Homburg Cup for four consecutive years. Max Décugis had returned to Bad Homburg to defend the Homburg Cup, but was playing well below his form of the previous year. [Although Décugis was the defending champion, he played through the tournament – the Challenge Round appears to have been abolished this year.] In an early round Décugis was able to beat the Belgian Paul Trasenster 7-9, 6-3, 6-2, but then lost to the Irishman George Ball-Greene by the unexpectedly one-sided score of 7-5, 6-2. Ball-Greene was beaten in turn by Frederick W. Payn, the score being 6-1, 6-2. The Homburg Cup was won in 1902 by Major Josiah Ritchie, who beat George Hillyard 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 and, in the final round, Payn, by the score of 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. “In 1902, the matches for the Homburg Cup were played in front of a particularly dazzling range of spectators. The German Emperor, Wilhelm II, and the Crown Prince, also called Wilhelm, watched the most important matches. The Crown Prince took advantage of the presence of Max Décugis to play a practice match with the French champion on several days. During the prize-giving ceremony, the prizes were even awarded by the Empress, Auguste Victoria. The following are just are a few of the other daily visitors to the tournament in 1902: the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess of Greece, Prince and Princess Friedrich Karl von Hesse, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Duke of Cambridge and his two sons, the former British Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, the Duke of Devonshire and the British ambassador in Berlin, Sir Frank Lascelles. “With each passing year the Homburg tournament was becoming more and more international. For example, in 1903, in addition to the Englishman Major Josiah Ritchie and the Irishman George Ball-Greene, the participants also included the Americans Clarence Hobart and Robert LeRoy, the South African Tripp, the Swede Wollmar Boström and two Belgians, Paul de Borman and William Lemaire. The Belgian champion, de Borman, lost to Ritchie in the semi-final by the score of 6-2, 6-4, while, to general surprise, the American Clarence Hobart lost to Ball-Greene, the score being 6-2, 1-4, retired. Our German champion of the time, Viktor von Müller, had in an earlier round lost to Ball-Greene by the extreme score of 6-0, 5-0, retired, while the champion from Frankfurt, Carl Schmidt-Knatz, had lost 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 to W.S. Thomson, an American residing in Bremen. The holder of the Homburg Cup, Ritchie, suffered an unexpected defeat in the 1903 final against Ball-Greene, who was playing above his usual form, and won by the score of 7-5, 7-5, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3. “The following year, 1904, the holder, George Ball-Greene, successfully defended his title at the Homburg Cup. In the final he beat the tremendously tall American, Wylie C. Grant, 9-7, 6-2, 6-3. Ball-Greene also won the Homburg Cup the following year, 1905, ultimately because the English players with whom he was friends, including George Hillyard, gave him a walkover in the semi-final and final rounds. “In 1906, Otto Froitzheim of Germany took part in the Homburg tournament for the first time. In the Homburg Cup event he immediately brought off a sensational performance by beating the three-time defending champion George Ball-Greene by the score of 6-1, 1-6, 6-1. However, in the final Froitzheim had to give way to the young Cambridge undergraduate, Anthony Wilding, from New Zealand, who beat him 6-1, 6-1, 6-4. “As early as the following year, 1907, Froitzheim won the Homburg Cup for the first time after a remarkable victory over Anthony Wilding, the score being 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. At one stroke Froitzheim’s name thus became famous in the international sport of tennis. For several years thereafter Frotizheim always played his best tennis during the Homburg tournament, where he gained some of his most important victories. In 1908, he beat Wilding in the final again, though this time by the much closer score of 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6. “In 1909, Otto Froitzheim won the Homburg Cup for the third year in a row and thus outright, though only after a hard-fought five set match against Major Josiah Ritchie, who eventually succumbed by the score of 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. In this final for the Homburg Cup, Froitzheim played with what was for him unusual determination because this was a revenge match for him following the defeat he had suffered a short time earlier against Ritchie in the final round of the Olympic tournament, held on the grass courts of Wimbledon in London. Ritchie had won that match 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. “In 1910, the top foreign players stopped visiting Homburg to take part in the tournament. As a result, the competition for the Homburg Cup in 1910 and 1911 could be said to have been the equal of the competition for the German Championships because in both years more of the top German players played in Homburg than in the German Championships tournament in Hamburg. “In 1910, the final result of the Homburg Cup caused a great sensation because the teenager Heinrich Kleinschroth, from Munich, had been able to beat Otto Froitzheim in the semi-finals by the noteworthy score of 6-4, 9-7, 10-8. Kleinschroth then won the final against Heinrich Schomburgk by the score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3. Earlier on in the tournament Schomburgk had distinguished himself by defeating Oscar Kreuzer 7-5, 6-3, 6-1. “In 1911, Otto Froitzheim took his revenge against Heinrich Kleinschroth for his defeat of the previous year by beating him 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Many of the other top German players also took part in the Homburg tournament in 1911. “In the following years the Homburg tournament gradually decreased in importance for reasons which cannot be gone into in detail here. In 1912, Otto Froitheim, the Kleinschroth brothers, Friedrich Rahe, Heinrich Schomburgk, Curt Bergmann and other top German players did not take part in the tournament. Instead a first-class English player, Gordon Lowe, came to Homburg, but lost in the final to Oscar Kreuzer after a bitter five-set struggle, the score being 6-4, 1-6, 3-6, 6-0, 8-6. “In the last Homburg tournament before the outbreak of World War One there was a very one-sided final. Otto Froitzheim won the Homburg Cup after beating Paul Lindpaintner by the score of 6-1, 6-3, retired. “In the post-war years the importance of the Homburg tournament in the sporting world has regrettably continued to decrease. None of the post-war Homburg tournaments have achieved the brilliance of most of the pre-war tournaments. However, we hope that the Homburg tradition will be revived one day.”
  1895  Cranston, W.
  1896  Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie)
  1897  Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie)
  1898  Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie)
  1899  Doherty , Reginald Frank (Reggie)
  1900  Doherty , Hugh Lawrence (Laurie)
  1901  Decugis, Maxime Omer (Max)
  1902  Ritchie, Major Josiah George
  1903  Ball Greene, George Courtenay
  1904  Ball Greene, George Courtenay
  1905  Ball Greene, George Courtenay
  1906  Wilding, Anthony Frederick (Tony)
  1907  Froitzheim, Otto
  1908  Froitzheim, Otto
  1909  Froitzheim, Otto
  1910  Kleinschroth, Heinrich
  1930  Hopman, Henry Christian (Harry)
  1931  Menzel, Roderich Ferdinand Ottomar
  1935  Menzel, Werner

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